Protecting the organization, its customers and employees is just one reason why the majority of employers conduct background checks. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that more than 80 percent of employers utilize pre-employment screening of some type to ensure they are making wise hiring decisions. Provided the employer and prospective employee provide complete information for the background check, it shouldn't take long for a routine check to be returned to the employer; however, there are reasons why a background check might be declined. The reasons vary and are not all attributable to the prospective employee.


Human error, such as filling out the form incorrectly, is the most common reason for a background check to be declined.

Human Error

Even when job candidates provide accurate information to prospective employers, such as Social Security number, address, academic credentials, drivers license number and birthplace, there is always the possibility of human error. The candidate's information has to be transferred to another database or questionnaire, since the candidate may not be completing the actual background check form. In the event the candidate's information is transferred incorrectly, for example, a transposed number, a digit missing or 1234 Main Street instead of Main Circle for an address when the company conducts a background check, the results might indicate there is no such person, no such address or some other reason why the results are inconclusive.

Insufficient Records

Many employers check motor vehicle records to ensure the prospective employee hasn't been charged or convicted of vehicular crimes such as driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident or driving with a revoked license. For jobs that require a valid driver's license and experience as a truck driver, for example, if the candidate doesn't have a driving record at all, the background check might be declined for having insufficient records to vouch for his driving capabilities.

Financial Issues

When employers like the federal government conduct background checks as part of a security clearance investigation, if the candidate has financial issues, such as bankruptcy or seriously delinquent accounts or federal loans in default, the results of a background check may lead to the employer deciding not to hire the candidate or deciding to terminate an employee who has already begun working. The rationale is this: if an employee is experiencing dire financial straits, that could make him a possible risk for engaging in crimes such as bribery, embezzlement or misappropriating funds.

Banking and financial institutions also are very careful about hiring candidates with serious financial problems. In this case, the results of a background check could reveal information that is unacceptable, although the background check itself may not be officially denied.

Wrong Identity

Giving false information to a prospective employer is grounds for immediate termination; however, it's not unheard of for a candidate to provide blatantly false information for a background check. In the event the candidate doesn't provide a Social Security number that matches up with a name or address history, the background check could be declined on the basis that no record exists for the person providing the information.

No Dotted I's and Crossed T's

An authorization form for a background check is a formal document that requires a valid signature of the prospective employee. Therefore, if the form isn't filled out properly or is incomplete, the background check could be declined. And while the lack of a signature seems like something the recruiter would immediately notice, there are probably instances where the authorization form doesn't contain a signature. In this case, also, a background check could be declined without proper authorization to pull the candidate's records. Utilizing electronic means to capture the candidate's information and authorization can eliminate the chances of having the background check declined for this reason.